New Game was the only show I was excited about watching every week this season. I know it’s sad, but its true. New Game! satisfies some very simple desires for me as a person, all wrapped up in an irresistible package. It’s is a shining example of how to do Moe Slice of Life for the, more adult mind, and not make it gross. (yeah I know there are many others that do this, New Game! isn’t the only one.)
When I think about what keeps me invested in a show, narrative is usually the first that pops into my mind. Now it may be strange to say but New Game! has a more gripping narrative than more plot driven shows, and here’s why. New Game! is about things we can immediately relate to. Everything that comes with a new job is understandable for anyone who’s been in the work force. With this easy to understand premise we don’t have to dwell so much time on setting up these facts. Thus the show can get on with its story and focus on all the things that make it great, like the narrative. And even if you don’t know what its like to be in the work place for the first time, the reasoning behind why someone would feel this way is easy enough to understand even if you have near zero empathy. The narrative is again simple but relatable, it’s about an 18-year-old girl named Aoba who’s just been hired to work as a character designer for a game company. She now gets to work under someone she has always admired and work on her favorite game franchise, all while being the company noob and learning the facets of video game production.. The series follows them completing the game in a light-hearted and comedic fashion, embracing the comedy and yuri bait but always relating it to work. That’s what brings you back every week. Everything that happens more or less is based around either the production of the game, Aoba learning her job, or game culture itself. Nothing ever seems to happen that goes against what the point of the show is and in doing so it feels more compelling as say another moe slice of life show (not to point fingers). New Game! has a hook and never lets that hook go, which is smart. I tuned in because I wanted to see girls who worked in the game industry, and every week it felt like that’s what I got. So I liked New Game! because it held my attention because of its plot always being present, or nearby enough for me to keep caring. But that’s beginner stuff when we’re talking about what makes a good show. Let’s talk about what really made the show for me.
I probably have an unhealthy obsession with girls who are borderline gay for each other. I’m not talking about Yuri because I don’t mean actual lesbians, but friends who are so close, the line almost gets blurred. In New Game! almost every girl has this sort of relationship with at least one other character in the office, and I love it for that. Not to mention that every pair works well together and its easy to see how they would function in a romantic relationship, because the show always relates their connecting to the narrative of the show. Again bringing everything together in a package that makes you care and keep caring. To use my favorite ship as an example. When the game is near completing and with a looming deadline, Rin (The Art Director) gets sick and Kou (The Lead Character Designer) takes her home and nurses her back to health and to make sure she gets her rest and doesn’t work. This melds well into the show because it’s clearly related to the story of the show. They’re at a deadline and something unexpected happens, Rin gets sick. Everyone knows whats its like to be under crunch time and the pressure it entails. Rin tries to brush it off as no big deal, which is very, Japanese work ethic, of her. Kou decides that her health is more important and brings her home. Now that we have the narrative correlation clear we can focus on the character and personal part. Kou and Rin have been best friends since before joining the company and Rin has always been the one looking out for Kou. Now their roles are reversed and we get to see a contrast to how their relationship is normally. Once that is all established them acting like a married couple with Rin wanting to have Kou feed her is just the icing on the cake. The icing is the best part for sure. But it wouldn’t matter without the other stuff, unless you were just looking to get off. In which case I could direct you to some more effectively potent material.
When it’s not showing off it’s gay undertones, New Game! is giving us that Moe feeling that we so often find in shows littered with only cute girls. I mean the show doesn’t feature a single boy. Literally their whole company is made up of females, that’s a win in a of itself (Not a feminist comment). But getting to see cute girls that have nerd interests is the real victory here. And to top it off they never seem like they aren’t real people. “Logan what does that mean?” Well it means that when a character does something cute it is often grounded in that character and within reason. For example, Kou the Character designer tends to overwork herself and stays overnight at work a lot. So there are a lot of scenes of her waking up from under her desk in only her underwear. Now its cute to see her waking up for a number of reasons, some perverted other’s not so much. But it’s tied to game development again because she is working overnight. It shows her work ethic and personality. And we get to see her looking adorable in her t-shirt and panties. With everything working in unity it all feels natural and relatable. Would you want to wear you’re pants or work dress to bed, hell no you wouldn’t. New Game! doesn’t just make us go “Awhhhh” it makes us go “Awhhhh, I totally get that.” It makes the Moe stuff relatable and believable and lets us get invested.
But what is investment without growth right? Well New Game! has that too. While not all, at least three characters go through some sort of growth. For Aoba its learning to not be satisfied with what she can do presently and always strive even though she may fail or fall short. For Kou its learning to deal with past mistakes and grow so you can accomplish something you’ve failed. It’s similar to Aoba’s growth but Kou actually did run away from her failure and its more about her accepting that than realizing it. Nene (Aoba’s friend) learns that finding things you’re good at often comes at trying something new. She uses her game savvy experience to help debug the new game and finds that her attention to detail and care for what she’s doing is a talent of her’s. This may sound all pedantic if you haven’t seen the show but it does such a good job investing you in the characters that these lessons are felt as real as the characters feel, which is a lot.
I don’t know how many times I’ve said it but I’ll say it again. New Game! takes all its elements and grounds them to a narrative that never loses its place and that’s why it works so well. Some flaws I would have to give New Game! is that it doesn’t always earn its emotion that’s its going for, and intentional sad movement’s often comes off as comedic or cute. There are a lot of characters that just feel like they are part of a checklist of tropes and don’t serve really any other purpose. It’s mostly forgivable because they have such genuine interaction that it isn’t even noticeable unless you’re looking for it. I say that because Umiko is my girl and I don’t want to call her out on being so much of a trope it hurts. She does help with Nene’s development so there’s points there. I wouldn’t call it a flaw but I wish Hifumi would have been more in the show, I felt like she was either the sex symbol or the butt of a joke. I guess all the characters are like that in a way but Hifumi is so adorable it almost feels cruel. I still smile overtime I get embarrassed, so maybe I’m part of the problem. Anyway I can’t really tell if I’ll ever want to revisit New Game!, much like I wouldn’t want to revisit my first time in the work force. But I can say that it will surely stick in my mind as one of the great examples on how to do Moe Slice of Life right.